In Canto VI of Dante's Inferno, what sin have the inmates committed and what is their punishment?
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In Canto VI, Circle 3 of the Inferno, Dante encounters the gluttonous - those who sinned by failing to check their appetite for food and drink. They lie face-down in mud generated by an incessant storm of rain, hail, and snow, simultaneously under attack from the three-headed guard dog of the classical Hades, Cerberus. Dante contraposes their sin with the punishment of having to continually ingest mud while being subject to the insatiable hunger of the Hound of Hell. However, the mostly political content of Canto VI gives credence to the view that Dante considered gluttony a more complex sin than merely overeating and drinking. His contraposition suggests the poet sees gluttony as the unbridled desire to consume souls. Its mouths gagged with the mud Virgil throws, Dante is able to speak with a soul nicknamed Ciacco, a derogatory Florentine term for 'hog' or 'pig'. In placing this historical Florentine here, Dante follows the Medieval and Renaissance conceit of choosing locations for characters based on their names. Ciacco 'forecasts' - the events, in fact, have already taken place - the feuds in Florence which will result in Dante's exile. And he informs Dante where in Hell other Florentines may be found.
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